Summer camps at the Black sea are a typical life experience for students and youth in Bulgaria. Camp is a setting where they can learn new skills, build friendships, and experience personal growth. While the majority of summer camps available to children and youth with disabilities have been segregated, the Adapted Water Sports Camp organised by the National Sports Academy (NSA) is providing opportunities for camp experiences that bring together youth with differrent abilities together . The camp is organised in the area of the Black sea coast, in the ancient city of Nessebar at Acrutiria bay.

The programme has since sixteen years been bringing individuals with different abilities (physical, sensory and intellectual) and students from NSA together to train activities and at the end of the camp to compete as teams. During the ten days’ session, participants and staff are practicing water sports activities together: sea swimming, aquatic games, rowing, kayaking, stand-up pedalling and sailing. The aim of the program is to provide new sports opportunities for all participants as well as strengthen existing sports camp experiences for persons with disabilities and to create an inclusive atmosphere of mutual understanding, learning, and sharing with a focus on adapted water sports such as precise orienteering.  All activities are carried out in strong connection with nature and environmental education is also included in the programme. Family members are also included in some of the activities.

The university is also operating some research projects during the camps. A researh on the social impact of the camp was made, using qualitative design in combination with semi-structured interviews, field notes and thematic analysis. Results have shown that this program provides strong opportunities for all participants to overcome social barriers . The results indicated that inclusive physical activity remains a viable tool for reducing social exclusion and improving social well-being. During the years we developed partnership with sport club “Adapted sports” and the Bulgarian Sports Development Association. Two organizations – ParaKids and Federation Adapted Physical Activity Balkan and Black Sea Area have been inspired by the concept and are also organizing inclusive adapted water sports camps.

Contact: Stefka Djobova